By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
At long last, the election is over! And whether your guy won or not, you have to agree having the whole brouhaha behind us can only be better for our country. However, I have to say I’ve been less than impressed with people who call themselves adults in the wake of the re-election of President Obama. The vitriol that existed November 5th is evidently just as strong on November 7th. And it’s not just one political party I’m watching behaving badly. I’m seeing unnecessary roughness on the left AND on the right in social media, and I’m here to say: It’s time to grow the heck up, folks.
I realize everyone feels the stakes are high for our country. Frankly, I’m glad to see so many people lined up at the polls and the high level of involvement with the American political process. All of that? A good thing. But the low-blow Facebook statuses and the uber-snarky tweets are getting to me, folks. They’re like teaching a pig to sing: a waste of time and irritating to the pig.
Because we should all get it by now, right? Haven’t we all been humiliated on the field at one time or another? I remember feeling a dark despair in 2004 when the country thought it a good idea to re-elect George Bush for a second term that bordered on clinical depression. I daresay my beloved right-wing audience remembers the bloom on that rose. “Sore Loserman”? Yeah. This ain’t America’s first trip to the bad behavior rodeo as far as our politics are concerned.
So, time for a primer for both my smug lefties and my bereft righties, methinks, concerning a little post-election concept called “sportsmanship.” We claim it’s important to teach to our children. Yet if the ugliness I’m seeing being shared online gives even an inkling about what we’re passing on? I fear for the future.
It’s about discipline and self-control, people. You show respect for yourself when you show respect for others. And, hello? How many people decided to change their mind over your Facebook status or Twitter feed? Oh yeah, none. We teach our young to respect our opponents. They are how we become better. We welcome their challenge. We shake hands at the end of the game to thank our opponent for making us stronger, smarter, faster.
Respect the officials. Again, easy to tell your son not to argue a call with a ref. But when you show zero respect for at least the office? Not cool. Play fair. Accept the calls. If you’re on top, offer encouragement to your opponent: the opposite of trash talk. And if you’re down, we teach our kids to get up, dust off, and get back in the game: also great advice for the good sportsman. Er, sportsperson. Sport. Yeah. Again, amazing what we’re willing to tell our kids to do when we don’t walk the walk ourselves.
There’s no pouting in sports, guys. Let’s keep it offline too, eh? Likewise, there should be no gloating. I’ve seen a kind of schadenfreude online the last couple of days that can’t bode well for anyone’s karma, I assure you. Good sports don’t take joy in the pain, suffering, or loss of another. You just say hooray for your side. Cheer in a positive manner. The displays of temper and name-calling since the election? It doesn’t suit anyone.
I mean, calling the election a sham? Saying “America died”? Ted Nugent said if you voted for Obama, you’re a pimp, a whore, or a welfare brat? That Obama is “subhuman”? Or on the other side, encouraging Republicans to move to Canada? Puh-lease.
If you haven’t noticed, politics move in cycles. Once again, the victors will once again be the losers, and vice-versa. Put your boots on the ground for what you believe and go for it. But don’t be the jerk that pulls a Sharpie out of your sock after the touchdown breakdance. We’re all on the same team, guys, and that’s Team America. Is it easier for me to write this article in 2012 than it would have been in 2004? Sure. I’m not Pollyanna, and as y’all know, I don’t lean right.
But Bush-bashing was no more sportsmanlike than Obama-bashing. I’m hoping that as a nation we can get over our election blues soon. Because left or right, we’re Thelma and Louise. We’re in this thing together. We’ll try it a different way for awhile. But we better hang on to one another. We’re in the same sedan hurtling towards the same cliff. And as Romney-backer Kid Rock once sang, time to get in the pit and try and love someone. Let’s find our similarities. We can slug it out, but we’ve got to shake hands at the end of the game. Every Little Leaguer knows it. Now you.